Ase to Sekken is somewhat a controversial title in the manga sphere. Focusing on the adult romance of a scented product developer with a strong nose, and an accountant of the same company who masks her sweat with said products. I mean… it really isn’t as outright ecchi as you’d think, and is surprisingly thoughtful about certain themes and plot points.
But that’s not quite why I’m here today. Instead of my usual review style, I’m going to do a bulleted list with small explanations about why you should give it a watch. Even if Ase to Sekken isn’t a manga you’re reading, or you’re not a live action fan.
For a sexy premise – it sure doesn’t feel that way.
For those sex adverse or those who hate sex scenes in general – Ase to Sekken‘s are guarantee to to please. Because they’re all metaphors with varying degrees of strangeness. My personal favorite being one that’s represented via a scent induced exorcism. And yes, that is a thing that happens in the series.
Because what’s fun about Ase to Sekken is that that series has a very good grasp on how ridiculous it is. Instead of trying to literally replicate the weirdness from panel to panel, the director opts for metaphors and abstract surreal imagery that’s sure to make you giggle or groan at it’s execution. Something that’s not only done for the sex scenes, but in other ways as well. It’s fun to watch and visually pleasing to the eye.
A strong understanding of what made the manga so popular and translating that into the live-action.
One of my biggest beefs with a lot of modern adaptations of manga into live action is the panel for panel scene recreations. I do not want to watch a moving manga with real people serving as stand-ins. I want to watch something that understands the source material, it’s appeal, weakness, overall themes and concepts, and adapts those ideas. Aside from what to cut and add, takes the time to show why those changes enhance it as an adaptation.
Ase to Sekken‘s weakest point will always be the fact that in any adaptation – we can’t smell it. As viewers we have to take at face value whatever Natori is smelling, or whatever product Asako is using really smells good/bad/etc. What gives Ase to Sekken the benefit over it’s manga counterparts is the fact it’s live action. We can see the sweat beading on Asako’s neck, the way different soaps lather, even the products being tested. Combined with voice overs, color theory, and your own experiences you can build in your own smell-o-vision. The visual cues of the fog machines, aerosol cans, perfume, etc really enhance the idea that this is a scent based story, without actually having the scents present.
Treats issues the characters face with tact and consideration.
I know that something that basic should be a no-brainer at this point when it comes to live action. Despite that, common sense isn’t so common, yadda yadda yadda. It’s very easy to assume, and in most cases be right, that with a whacky premise and whimsical production like Ase to Sekken that serious themes, might get thrown out in favor for more fun.
As you can guess, that assumption would be wrong. It does take a bit for these issues to be brought forward as the main point of an episode. These really don’t get brought up until episodes seven and eight. They are however, handled with a certain amount of respect.
Natori leans way too much on his nose knowing best. Often saying things aloud because he can tell someone’s emotions from their smell, when it would be more appropriate to ask first. Something he’s been warned about by co-workers and friends alike. Seeing him struggle, which was so well represented in episode seven, when he can’t rely on his nose does hit home that verbal communication is really important.
Similarly with Asako, the whole premise of the show is that she has a complex about how much sweat she produces, and it’s potential smell. It what draws Natori to her, and kick starts their hijinks. At the same time, it’s also a very real concern for her since she has such a long streak of it being perceived negatively. Coupled with this coming to a tipping point in episodes eight and nine – it’s a pretty poignant statement about how one grows up really does affect who they become.
I mean there’s also the bonus that this has been licensed by Viki for English subs to be released soon, if they aren’t already. Just a final nudge for all the subtitle fans.
And that’s the post! Let know if I missed a shortlist reason why people should be watching Ase to Sekken, or which one has inspired you to give it a try.